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And Speaking About Electrification of Larger Vehicles, How About Public Transit Buses?

(Rick Sander, CEO, Tuesday January 21st, 2020)

Our last couple of blogs looked at the electrification of automobiles, light trucks, and SUVs (ALTS). One of the leading categories in larger electric vehicles (EVs) are public transit buses. And while 17% of the world’s buses are electric (a good number), a whopping 99% of public transit buses in China are electrified! One of the obstacles to public transit bus electrification in most parts of the world is the infrastructure (specifically charging systems), and not availability of the vehicles. A standard high-power bus charging station costs around $50,000. The period of transitioning from one technology to another (in this case, diesel or hybrid buses to electric buses) is when the cost is highest, because both infrastructures must be maintained. But while electrification infrastructure for an entire state or large city is a huge undertaking, pilot projects illustrate the potential for small scale adoption prior to a developed state-wide support system.

Highlights of experiences of some early adopters of electric buses in the United States:

  • Seneca, South Carolina: In 2014, Seneca becomes the first city in the world to test an all-electric bus fleet. The electric buses outperformed their diesel and gas counterparts in terms of fuel and maintenance costs.
  • Chicago, Illinois: This was a major test of electric bus performance in cold weather. The results essentially matched the South Carolina effort.
  • King County, Washington: This effort was successful enough to drive efforts to transition to a zero-emission fleet by 2040.
  • Twin Rivers, California: A Sacramento school district tested electric school bus finding them to be reliable and save the district money.
  • Albuquerque, New Mexico: After a disastrous first attempt including mechanical problems, inadequate infrastructure and conflicts with the bus manufacturer, the city has not thrown in the towel on electrification efforts. They have announced that they will try again (this time with a different bus manufacturer).

Dale Hill, Proterra founder, remarked on the significance of Seneca’s electric fleet adoption, with comments that still resonate today:

Who would have ever thought that in the foothills of the South Carolina Appalachian Mountains, the city administrator for a small town of nine or ten thousand people, surrounded by a group of visionaries.. would carve out the cornerstone for a concept that is changing the transit industry worldwide. This battery electric bus fleet is the first all-electric bus fleet in the world. In the world. The electric city, wow.

We also share this dream of across-the-board vehicle electrification. Rhombus Energy Solutions is a leader in in the development and manufacturing of high-power DC charging systems that can be integrated with energy storage and renewable power sources. With a product lineup ranging from 60kW to 500kW, our chargers are used today with a variety of vehicles and deployment scenarios. We have built hundreds of high-power chargers with vehicle-to-grid capabilities for a variety of customers, and are looking forward to continuing the electrification of our transport infrastructure. Find out how we can help you by contacting us at sales@rhombusenergy.com.

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